GOVERNMENT

Special legislative session to discuss redistricting, Dixie State, bail reform

Nov 9, 2021, 9:10 AM | Updated: 12:21 pm
utah capitol special session...
The Utah State Capitol Building as seen atop the Conference Center. Salt Lake City August 11, 2021. (Colby Walker KSL NewsRadio)
(Colby Walker KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — A special session of the Utah Legislature will convene at 10:30 am on Tuesday, Nov. 9, with a wide range of topics on the agenda. 

On Friday, Gov. Spencer Cox called a special legislative session for Tuesday. The session will conclude Utah’s decadal redistricting process and discuss issues such as President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates and Dixie State’s name change.

Utah’s redistricting maps

The Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC), a committee created and approved through a ballot initiative in 2018, proposed redistricting maps of their own. They revealed their maps on Friday.

Many expressed their support for the commission’s maps in an open letter to Cox with signatures from key business leaders, and political and activist groups. 

The IRC, a bipartisan commission, worries lawmakers’ maps give more power to one party and that the maps will make it easier for incumbents to keep their political positions. 

Sen. Scott Sandall, R-Tremonton, was quoted by KSL as saying their body created maps that represent the interest of all Utahns.

The congressional map we propose has all four delegates representing both urban and rural parts of the state. Rural Utah is the reason there is food, water and energy in urban areas of the state. We are one Utah, and believe both urban and rural interests should be represented in Washington, D.C. by the entire federal delegation.

However, the legislature has gradually decreased the IRC’s influence since its inception in 2018. Now, the IRC only has only an advisory role.

Late Friday night, lawmakers released maps of their own, with sharp differences from the IRC versions. Notably, the lawmakers’ maps divide Salt Lake City between the state’s four congressional districts. 

Public disappointment in the process

Since Friday, many in Utah have erupted in disappointment at the redistricting process, proceedings, and decisions made by the legislative committee.

The state Legislative Redistricting Committee heard hours of public testimony on Monday before it voted to move to approve its own version of the maps for new political district boundaries.

Many of those who showed up to the Capitol to speak to the committee wanted more consideration of the 12 maps drawn by the IRC.

A number of those who shared their opinion called the Legislative Redistricting Committee’s maps gerrymandering.

Regardless, at today’s special session, the Legislative Redistricting Committee is expected to vote to move forward with the maps made by Republican lawmakers in front of the entire Utah Legislature

New House Majority Leader defends legislative committee

After being introduced as the new House Majority Leader, Rep. Mike Schultz came to the defense of the legislative committee and the maps it approved. 

From his perspective, the committee went above and beyond to provide accurate representation across the state. 

“I do feel like the committee did a great job in keeping communities of interest together,” Schultz said. 

Schultz said claims that the committee sidestepped the IRC are not true. 

“This narrative out there that we didn’t listen to the independent commission is just false because we did take some of their ideas and incorporate them into the maps,” said the new Majority Leader. 

The representative explained the Biden administration’s federal vaccine mandate f0r businesses is another big issue for this special session. He wants to make sure exemptions are put in place for certain employees under the rule. 

The special session agenda

In addition to the redistricting maps vote, Tuesday’s special legislative session will include a number of other topics, according to the Deseret News.

The session will discuss president Biden’s workplace COVID-19 vaccine mandates, which Attorney General Sean Reyes, called an “egregious and unprecedented” exercise of federal power.

Lawmakers will talk about the ongoing Dixie State name change debate. The Dixie State discourse involves discussions of the racist connotations of the name ‘Dixie,’ most commonly known as a descriptor for Confederate southern states.

The discussion follows a recent development in an already extensive process. After a unanimous vote, the Utah Board of Higher Education officially recommended that state lawmakers change the name of Dixie State University to Utah Tech University.

Finally, lawmakers will discuss new solutions to Utah’s bail system after a bail reform bill, HB206, was repealed. HB206 required the release of those accused of low-level crimes into the least restrictive conditions determined on a case-by-case basis.

The Deseret News reports legislative leaders including House Majority Whip Mike Schultz, argued for the reversal of the bill. Schultz claimed dangerous offenders were released within hours under the new law. At four months old, lawmakers repealed the bill.

The issue of bail reform will cycle back into legislative consideration at today’s session.

Today’s Top Stories

Government

Herbert Cox statement Reyes election lawsuit...
Mark Jones

State of Utah files lawsuit against pharmaceutical retailers

Three pharmaceutical retailers are facing a lawsuit from the State of Utah. The lawsuit was filed the week of July 1.
5 days ago
This June 20, 2017, photo provided by Chris Wonderly shows Hovenweep Castle at Hovenweep National M...
Curt Gresseth

Supreme Court widens state power over tribes. What does it mean for Utah?

The director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs discusses the recent US Supreme Court ruling and what it means for tribes in Utah.
6 days ago
Ketanji Brown Jackson takes the oath for the Supreme Court....
MARK SHERMAN Associated Press

Jackson sworn in, becomes 1st Black woman on Supreme Court

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, will be sworn as the court's 116th justice Thursday, just as the man she is replacing, Justice Stephen Breyer, retires.
6 days ago
Immigration activists rally outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 26. Photo credi...
Tierney Sneed and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

Supreme Court says Biden can end Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ immigration policy

The Supreme Court on Thursday gave President Joe Biden the green light to end the controversial "Remain in Mexico" immigration policy.
6 days ago
The Supreme Court is pictured. The court just limited the EPA...
MARK SHERMAN Associated Press

Supreme Court limits EPA in curbing power plant emissions

The Supreme Court on Thursday limited how the nation's main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
6 days ago
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference on the final day of the NATO summit in Madrid, ...
DARLENE SUPERVILLE and ZEKE MILLER Associated Press

Biden says transatlantic alliance has adapted to new threats

Biden's comments came at a press conference in Madrid at the conclusion of the annual meeting of NATO leaders and after he attended a summit with the Group of Seven advanced democratic economies in the Bavarian Alps.
6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Special legislative session to discuss redistricting, Dixie State, bail reform